Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep


“Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep”
By Zach Wood
Luke 15:1-2 NLT
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

One of the things I most admire about Jesus was His ability to associate with the people who would be considered lowest on the totem pole.  Jesus was never into a popularity contest.  He did not spend time with people who only looked a certain way, smelled a certain way or dressed a certain way. 

Much of His mission was to associate with people who were close to hitting rock bottom or were already there.  I guess you could say he attracted people who were living in sin. 

The religious leaders did not like and could not believe that Jesus would do such a thing as to associate with the lowliest people.  Here was perfect Jesus associating with others that most would not associate with.  That is just how Jesus was.  He reached to people and places where most of us would never go.  He does not have barriers.  He does not have a checklist of things that keep Him away from others.  His love was real, genuine and reached out to those who needed Him most. 

I have to wonder about us today.  How many of us have a “checklist” of those we only associate with?  Who do we only allow ourselves to associate with?  We all have favorites and we choose to pay attention to those we choose to be around.  We do not like being around people who make us feel uneasy and uncomfortable.  And, we certainly do not like being around people who are completely different from us.  We often disagree and find it challenging to find common ground.

Jesus did not let barriers like this stop Him from reaching out.  He reached out to people we would avoid.  He touched people we stay far away from.  He had compassion on people that we would probably judge.  He reached out and He loved.  He associated with sinners and He loved lost sheep. 

The next few verses talk about how Jesus goes after lost sheep because they matter.  He would leave the 99 to find the 1 because that 1 totally matters.

I find it absolutely amazing that people who were lost and in sin were attracted to Jesus.  They were amazed that He took time to reach out to them. 

Do we associate with sinners?  Jesus associates with us, and we are sinners.  He calls us to associate with others without barriers.  That is challenging and tough, but that is our mission. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

He IS Peace


“He IS Peace”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NLT
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be trouble or afraid. 

After reading this passage the other day for my morning devotional time, I thought about all the worries, concerns and things I have been anxious about lately in my life.  As I pondered this passage, I prayed to God for peace. 

Perhaps I’m not alone with this feeling?  Do some of you need peace in your life right now because of all the worries, concerns and anxious thoughts?  I think it is safe to say that most of us have lives full of challenges, whatever they may be.  We seem to find ourselves consumed every day with so many concerns, worries and anxious thoughts. 

I have to admit that I have always been one to worry and be anxious about things that haven’t even happened.  I struggle often with the “What if?” questions.  I really wish I was a person who didn’t worry and become anxious, but we all have bad habits that we wish didn’t consume us.

This passage was a great reminder to me that I need His peace more than ever.  I not only need His peace, but I need to learn to let go of trying to control life with my worry and anxious thoughts and just rest in Him.  I wrestle often with worries and concerns about being a Godly husband, father and servant as well as health and financial concerns. 

I am so thankful that I read this passage because I really needed it!  I’m wondering if many of you are also feeling chaos in life because you are weighted down by the worries and concerns of life?  The more we worry and become anxious, the more we become stressed out.  We all know that feeling and it is not fun. 

I would like to share a prayer with you as I end.  I hope it brings comfort to you and some ideas of how you can continue to pray and lift worries and concerns to Him. 

God, I need Your peace right now to calm my fears, worries, concerns and anxious thoughts.  You not only give peace, but You are peace.  Only You can give me the peace I need to get through the challenges I am experiencing in life.  God, please fill me with a peace that the world cannot give me.  Let me be totally consumed with Your peace that can calm my soul.  I don’t want to worry, be afraid, be concerned or be overwhelmed with anxiety.  Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, please give me a peace of mind and heart so that I can learn to better submit to You and surrender everything so that I am not holding on to these things.  Help me to rest in Your peace.